Friday, October 10, 2008

Disagreeing with the experts, #2
When to send out review copies

As I prepare to launch several books, I've been reading lots of books about book publishing and promotion.

John Kremer's 1001 Ways to Market Your Books has a confusing cover. Its subtitle states it "includes over 100 proven marketing tips for authors."

So, even if we generously assume that "over 100" equals 200, that would mean that 801 of the ways to market books inside Kremer's mammoth 700-page book are not proven.

Kremer would probably respond that the 1001 ways are "for authors and publishers," and not all of them apply to authors. I'll argue that a huge percentage of the tips apply to both, and with the increasing trend to self-publishing, many authors are publishers.

The silly line appears on both the sixth and fifth edition, and maybe even more. I hope it will be dropped for the seventh.

But the main purpose of today's blog entry is not to zing a cover, but to disagree with potentially dangerous advice.

In the section on getting book reviews, John urges that writers "send books as early as possible -- preferably four months in advance of the book's publication date."

I can't see how it's possible to schedule when (let alone if) a book review will appear. I'd sure hate to have a fantastic review appear in February, if no books will be available for purchase until April.

We live in a world of instant gratification.

People who buy online will click the "order" button and then run to their window to look for the FedEx truck. There is no way I would trust someone who reads a review and likes what they read, to remember to buy it two months later.

I'd much rather delay sending out review copies until I know people can really buy my books.


  1. I'll have to word that line differently since if it confuses you, it could confuse others as well. Those 100 proven marketing tips actually refer to the author tips in boxes throughout the book. You can count them if you like.

    You send review copies at least 4 months before your publication date -- that's the date your book will be available to the public. Ideally, you want your book reviews to appear as soon as possible after your book is published.

    If you wait until your book is actually available to the public, many major reviewers won't review the book. They like to publish their review of books when the books are newly published.

    Now, if you're marketing primarily online, this advice doesn't make much difference. However, if you are selling through bookstores and want to keep your books in the stores, you need to get publicity immediately when the books are in stock in the stores.

    Now, reviews need a longer lead time, but other sorts of publicity don't. Interviews, articles, etc. can happen with a much shorter lead time and -- personally -- I like that sort of publicity best.

  2. Good points, John.

    I think we agree more than we disagree.

    The four-month delay before the publication date can shrink to two weeks with print-on demand; and POD and online sales radically remake the book publicity scenario.

    Over the last six months as I've been completing a book, I've had reason to deal with several print and online journalists.

    Where appropriate, I've told them about the book and they're waiting for review copies which I will send out when I am sure books will be available for purchase.